Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Identification With Job

If you know the Bible, you know who Job was. Job was a righteous man who was close to God, who prayed often, and who considered his children and their relationship with God by offering prayer and sacrifices for them as well as for himself and is wife. His children were many, and they were grown, living all on their own. Job was also a very wealthy man. The Lord had blessed him with much land and livestock. The Lord was happy with Job and was telling the angels about him, including Satan. Satan challenged God and said that if God took everything away from Job, he would turn and curse God. God then allowed Satan to smite Job as long as he did not take his life. In the process of the next few days and hours, Job's livestock was all dead, his servants were all dead except for the ones who were allowed to live to tell Job what had happened, and all his 10 children were dead. Then, on top of that, Job's body was afflicted with sores and boils. How many of us could have even a part of these tragedies happen and still love and trust God? Then, Job's friends came along. Oh what a comfort they were to him...NOT! Even Job's wife told him to curse God and die.

During the previously mentioned six years from April 1993 until April 1999, as I was in the process of losing everything I loved and cared about, from my marriage, children, home, and more, I could not help but think of Job. Oh how I prayed that God not allow my husband or children to be taken from my by death like Job's children were taken. What a time of learning to trust God this time period was. It seemed like every day something worse was happening. Even my health was beginning to become a threat to me. So many times I prayed and prayed, trying to keep in touch with my Lord, asking Him what was happening and why. We think that we can't question God, but when things happen that we cannot handle, what else can we do but question God? I am so grateful that God held tightly to me during these difficult times because I was losing my strength to hold on to Him.
At the same time...and this amazes me looking back on it all...God was drawing me closer and closer to Him through everything that was happening. The worse things got, the more time I spent reading the Bible and praying. I came to see the Bible in a whole new way during those years. I had always loved reading the Bible, but I have never been one who has been able to discipline myself to read it daily, except in certain sporadic times. Up until 2000 when I went back to church, I was not even a regular church-goer. Church attendance was sporadic as well. But during those six years as I spent more and more time reading the Bible (remember I was not reading any other Christian materials or listening to any Christian programming the first couple of years) God began showing me who He is and how much He really does love me...and loves everyone. He showed me that the Bible is His love letter to each of us. I read the New Testament and even more I read the Old Testament. I had not spent a lot of time in the Old Testament before this time, but during this time period, I spent most of my time there. In the Old Testament I found God: who He is, what He is, how much He loves us, what He can do, and so much more about Him. In the New Testament I found how much He loves us, what He was willing to do for us to prove that love and to keep us with Him forever, what we need to do to receive His love, and how He wants us to live our lives.
During those six years of troubles, I received peace and healing for many past hurts. That peace and healing helped to lay a foundation for me to stand on when things were still getting worse. I do not think I would have made it through everything without God's presence and provision for me through it all. And like Job, I prayed and prayed for my family for God's protection over each of them no matter what else happened. Then, in my prayers I began saying something to Jesus that I knew I meant with all my heart. Having the idea that maybe I was being tested somehow like Job was, and having already been praying for God to not take the life of my children or husband, I added another part to my prayers. It was scarey to say the words, but I meant them with all my heart. "Lord," I said, "whatever is taken from me, whatever I lose, as long as I still have Jesus, I have everything I need." I could not have said those words in my own strength. There is no way I could have done that. I knew it was true, but to speak the words was like jumping off a cliff knowing that I was looking at a long long fall. At the time I had prayed that, things were bad, but the worst was yet to come. As I said in the last post, by April 1999, my marriage was ending, my oldest child had moved out, and my youngest was too stressed to spend much time at home. I had been dealing with various health issues over the years from 1994-1998, probably all having to do with extreme stress in one way or another. By the end of 1998 I was at the end of my rope. I just could not hang on anymore. I even tried to threaten my husband that I would kill myself and he believed me. But it didn't change anything. I convinced him that I was just saying it to get him to see what everything was doing to me, but down inside I always questioned if I really could have done it. I do know that only the Lord's presence in my life, and my children kept me from suicide.
I want you who may be reading this to know that this has not been easy for me to write. I have spoken of these things to only a small number of close friends. But I want you to see the power of the presence of Jesus Christ in a person's life. I would not be here to write this blog if He were not there in my life at that time. There are things in my childhood where I had come at various times to wanting to kill myself. Even then it was Jesus who kept me from doing anything drastic.
Like I said in my previous post, the more I tried to hang on, the worse things got. The more I tried to keep things together, the more they fell apart. Nothing I did helped. After feeling like death was the only way out of my problems and realizing that that would not solve the problems and it would make things worse for my family, I felt I had to do something else or I would die just from the stress of it all. At that time, for the first time, I let go of the rope I was holding onto. I gave up. I could not hold on one more second. And I told my husband that I wanted a dissolution.

Have any of you ever heard the little story about the man who fell off a cliff and found himself hanging onto a tree root for dear life. He had no way to get himself back up to the solid ground, and far down below him were only rocks to land on. He was in a predicament if there ever was one. He started to call out to God for help. After all he was out there all alone and there was no one around for miles who would ever hear him or find him. How would he ever get back to safety? Then he hears a voice. It is God and God tells him He is there to help..."But first," God told him, "you are going to have to let go of that tree root."

How long I had been tightly holding on to the end of my rope. I finally gave up and let go. Do you know I am a very stubborn person? Do you know I need to have control? Do you know that fear drives my life....or at least it did back in those years? Do you know that in letting go of my rope...that giving up...even though my actions after I gave up were very un-Christ-like...very un-Christian...were just what was needed for things to finally start changing? Do you know that when you need to learn something big, like how to trust for example, you are going to have to go through something that is going to require you to trust?

Do you know that when you ask God to teach you to trust Him, you will go through some tough situations that will require you to let go of yourself and let Him have control of all those things you thought you needed to have control of? Guess what? That is what happens....but through it all, He is the instructor and He will not allow you to fall. He is right there to catch you when you stop clinging so tightly to your rope, or your tree root.

Later on in another post we will talk about what happened with Job. If you can't wait for that, go get the nearest Bible and read about him. He has his own book in the Bible...right before Psalms which is in the center for those who haven't read the Bible in a long time, or ever.

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